Records: University pocketed $400k in ticket revenue in two years

According to a public records request, the university has made over $400,000 in parking tickets over the past two years.


A Parking and Transportation Services vehicle.

Mary Rasura, Senior Staff Writer

How could you earn almost half a million dollars in two years? For FAU, it’s through parking enforcement.

According to a public records request made by the UP, the university has made over $400,000 in parking citations in the period from August 2020 to October 2022

“The Parking operation is managed consistently with the rest of the State University System (SUS) in that it is a self-supporting entity,” Associate Director of Parking Operations at FAU, Melonie Carmichael, wrote in an email. “As such, no state dollars support these programs system-wide.” 

While over $400,000 in two years seems like a large number, it pales in comparison to other universities. The Campus Parking and Transportation Association (CPTA) is located at the University of Arkansas. Gary K. Smith, CPTA secretary and University of Arkansas director of Transit and Parking, says that the university makes about $1.5 million a year in citation fees. 

“At the University of Arkansas, we operate as an auxiliary, meaning we must generate our own revenue, and all revenue goes back into the parking operation,” Smith wrote in an email. 

This is similar to how the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT) operates. They make around $1.2 million in citations a year, which makes up around 8% of the parking budget, according to UT Executive Director of Parking and Transportation Mark E. Hairr.

“Frankly, that sounds probably a little bit low compared to other universities like ours,” Hairr said, referring to FAU’s citation revenue. 

It’s important to consider other varieties in comparing citation revenue across different universities, such as population. FAU and UT have similar student populations, with FAU and UT both having over 30,000 students. 

Miami Parking Authority Director of Operations Angel Diaz Jr. says there are a lot of reasons parking enforcement is important. The top three are turnover, safety, and visibility. 

“Most municipalities and universities charge for parking to create turnover of the parking space. If the space is not regulated, then cars will just park in front of the businesses all day and those visiting the stores will not have a place to park,” Diaz Jr. wrote in an email. 

Without enforcement, people can take advantage of the free parking which affects other people who need to use those spaces to access businesses.

“Parking in no parking zones, fire hydrants, double parking, loading zones, etc. are regulated for a reason. First and foremost, it is for the safety of the vehicles and pedestrians. No parking zones are generally posted for either visibility into and out of a driveway or intersection,” Diaz Jr. wrote. 

If people park in these spaces, it can cause traffic or safety issues. If people park in loading zones, delivery drivers will struggle in fulfilling their deliveries. According to Diaz Jr., there has been an increase in deliveries due to COVID-19, which makes loading zone enforcement vital. 

Having parking enforcement officers making the rounds alerts people to the fact that they are there and helps deter noncompliance. 

“When patrolling, parking enforcement officers often drive with their yellow and/or white strobe lights on. If they are not driving then they are walking in uniform, have a two-way radio and/or a company cell phone on them at all times,” Diaz Jr. wrote. 

At UT, they are familiar with what happens when parking is not enforced. Due to the pandemic, the university did not enforce it for a few weeks last fall as students acclimated back to campus. 

“Without enforcement, we had a lot of students parking in staff parking lots and filling those up. When we started enforcing right after Labor Day, it took a few days but the enforcement and people getting citations, they realized ‘I can’t keep parking in a staff lot and I’m gonna have to buy the proper student permit.’ So it really keeps the the parking sorted out like it needs to be for students and staff,” Hairr said.

FAU makes less in parking revenue compared to the University of Florida (UF) and Florida State University (FSU). FAU is typically considered a commuter school, however it has less percentage of commuter students than UF and FSU.

The total student population at FAU is over 30,000, with 52% of students being commuters for Spring 2023, an FAU staff member said. The total student population at FSU as of Fall 2021 is over 45,000. 85% of FSU students commute, according to Director of Transportation and Parking Services at FSU Richard Rind. The total student population at UF as of Fall 2021 is over 60,000, with 78% living off campus

UF Senior Director of Transportation and Parking Services Scott Fox stated through a university spokesperson that they made just over $14 million in operating revenue in 2022. According to Fox, approximately 10% of that revenue came from fines, and the remaining 90% came from permit sales, daily pay parking, meter payments, and event parking fees. That means that in 2022, UF made around $1.4 million in parking citations. 

There are some notable differences between parking enforcement in a city, such as through Miami Parking Authority, and enforcement at a college campus. 

“Different universities have different procedures and strategies. At UF, one primary difference between campus and city enforcement is that one’s parking citations reside only on campus,” Fox wrote in an email. “They do not flag one’s state driving record or driver’s license. Another difference is that citation appeals are adjudicated on campus and not by a municipal authority.”

FSU makes approximately $3 million in parking revenue a year, with approximately 38% coming from citations, according to Rind. Forty-two percent comes from faculty/staff parking permits and 20% comes from event and visitor parking fees. Similar to FAU, parking permits for students are free at FSU. At FAU, parking permits are included in a transportation fee through tuition. 

Parking revenue at universities varies, meaning there is no standard for the amount of revenue they can make.

“‘Normal’ would vary from school to school based on many factors such as number of parking spaces, daily population of campus, student enrollment, cost of parking permits, enforcement methods, citation cost, convenience or inconvenience of parking locations, availability of alternate transportation methods, etc.,” Rind wrote in an email. 

New College of Florida’s Associate Vice President Finance/Controller Melissa Shippee states that the parking revenue from New College cannot be compared fairly to other public Florida universities. 

“New College is unique, being one of the only universities with 100% surface parking; 0% structured,” Shippe said. “New College has more parking spaces in total than the number of permits issued. Thus New College parking enforcement parameters are fundamentally different than those of FAU and the other SUS institutions.”

FAU Student Government has a parking citation forgiveness program where students can have up to $25 of their parking citation forgiven by donating to the On-Campus Food Pantry after applying to the program on Owl Central. According to Carmichael, 1% of citations were forgiven in the program from Fall 2021 to Spring 2022. 

“I want to clarify however that the term ‘forgive’ is not entirely accurate,” Reilly Bridgers, student body chief financial officer, wrote in an email. “SG pays parking and transportation for the ‘forgiven’ students. There is no actual forgiving occurring. SG simply takes the financial hit that otherwise would be put on the student.”

According to SG Boca Treasurer Stefan Andjelkovic, the parking citation forgiveness program has a budget of $8,000 for two semesters. As of Feb. 23, Andjelkovic stated the remaining balance was at $0. The program was made inactive on March 1 due to lack of funds. FAU Boca House of Representatives passed a bill on March 3 to provide emergency funding. 

Compared to the citation revenue FAU has amassed, Andjelkovic believes the SG budget has limitations. 

“Knowing that $400,000 has been spent in two years, so $200,000 in a year, is an absurd amount and I think that’s something, obviously, if we market it, not everyone’s gonna know about it, but just to bring it out there, put it on the Instagram knowing if you have a ticket and have a valid why you got the ticket and everything, you brought in the cans, of course we’ll reimburse you,” Andjelkovic said. “But for $200,000, no budget can, […] we can’t reimburse everyone.”

Mary Rasura is a senior staff writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @maryrasura.